Address by L N Sisulu, MP, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans at the Defence Review Workshop, Cape Town
24 Nov 2011Minister Namoloh, Minister of Defence of Namibia
Deputy Minister Makwetla
Deputy Minister Mondlane, Deputy Minister of Defence of Mozambique
Members of the Defence Review Committee
Members of the Interim National Defence Force Service Commission
General Shoke and members of the Military Command Council
Members of the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans Members of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence
Members of AMD
Ladies and Gentlemen
Welcome to this seminar on the Defence Review. As you know, we appointed a Defence Review Committee, established to assist us crystalise our thoughts on the Defence Review and produce a draft document for my consideration., which I in turn will place before Cabinet and Parliament for its adoption.
The Defence Review that we have to replace should ideally have had an expiry date, precisely because it was meant as a founding document. It should have been replaced, at the very least, two years after its adoption, in 1998. This means we are ten years beyond our expiry date. While our environment evolved, we remained static at a point completely out of sync with our reality. And for the last number of years, we have lived in a different context, with its limitations and errors.
The document that will ensue from the Defence Review process will have a two phased approach, with a short term and a long term reach. We have arranged this seminar to kick-start a public engagement phase for the Review process. The Defence Review Committee has gone to great lengths to grapple with their responsibility.
I have been very impressed with how quickly they settled in and familiarised themselves with the challenges of Defence. I have also in particular been impressed with the passion they have for the work.
I pity them for the void they will inevitably feel at the completion of such an intense engagement. We have set ourselves a deadline and it will be in our interest that we keep it. It will not be possible for me to place next year’s budget before Parliament if we have not completed our task.
We have invited Ministers of Defence of Southern African Development Community (SADC), two international specialists, one on defence policy and the other on African politics and conflict resolution.
The intention is to share ideas on a number of issues as we craft our policy, to take advantage of specialised knowledge on matters pertinent to the issues at hand and allow the Committee to interact with the political parameters that define our time. This is the first of these interactions and I have taken the liberty to invite Members of Parliament and the media.
In order to make our work easier we will break our public interaction of the Defence Review into manageable trunks of five sections. As I indicated, today is the first. The other four will be left to the Defence Review Committee to manage. This being with SADC Ministers and international guests, it had of necessity need to be chaired and directed by myself.
The five sections are as follows:
- We will discuss Defence policy in its totality, explaining the history of where we are and where we intend to be.
- Secondly, we’ll deal with the Force Structure of Defence, the command and administration of the Defence Force, as well as Civilian oversight, which will include executive and legislative oversight over the Secretariat and its role.
- The third part of the Defence Review process will look at Defence Capability and Defence Resources. How do we hope to achieve our policy objectives, as well as those of government.
- The fourth part will deal with the Defence Industry and specifically its role in support of the Defence Force and its role in the economy, as well as the necessary Arms Control Instruments.
- The fifth part will deal with the people and the armed forces and our relations with society.
Today we will be dealing with the policy imperatives – that which guides defence objectives and functions. This will be an open and transparent process and I hope from here there will be engagement with Parliament.
For us to contextualise our work we would need to define what is the nature of the present conjuncture? We are part of a developing world, we are part of newly liberated countries, grappling with poverty, we are part of a coherent, potentially militarily dominant SADC bloc. We are part of an uncertain Africa, grappling with institutionalising democracy. We are part of a vulnerable continent, rich in natural resources and so open to exploitation.
When the representatives of the European Union made strong representations in 2009 that South Africa enter the Somali pirate fray, it became clear that indeed, in SADC we occupied a geographic and strategic point on the globe – in Africa.
How to manage our vulnerabilities in relation to our strengths will define the major part of our work.
Mr Vasu will give us a fuller picture of this in his input. It is from an appreciation of our environment that we will be able to sharpen our insights into what needs to be done.
We will then look at the Defence Review process itself, with an input from Mr Chuter.
The Defence Review process is a re-thinking about the armed forces. What is their role in our democracy, in our society, in our economy. The legal and constitutional responsibilities are clear, but how does that translate into the present realities. We expect the end result to be the product of a broad discussion of how Defence should structure itself so as to be of better effect.
We pride ourselves in how far we have come as a people, determined to protect and defence the gains of our long struggle for democracy.
The negotiation process that unfolded in South Africa led to the birth of the country’s democracy and opened a new chapter in the history of Defence.
Given the role played by the Defence Force during the apartheid era, it was clear to all that Defence be subjected to intense scrutiny. Accordingly, Defence was a major subject of the negotiation process in Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA), the Multi-party Talks and in the Transitional Executive Council.
Negotiations saw the establishment of the Sub-Council on Defence under the supervision of the TEC in 1993. The work of the Sub-Council, in turn, ensured agreement on a set of Basic Principles of Defence laying the basis for the transformation and amalgamation of the statutory and non-statutory Defence Forces 1994.
The Basic Principles of Defence informed the White paper on Defence and guided the legislation that came to form the bedrock of democratic South Africa’s Defence.
During negotiations on the Final Constitution the following recommendations were made in respect of the Defence Force:
“In the description of the mandates of the different security services which follows here, the guiding principle is still that the responsibility for defence is placed in Parliament and the Executive. The Defence Force should have the primary duty to equip the Executive and Parliament to safeguard the South African public and South Africa’s national interests.
The following aspects of the control, accountability and structure of the Defence Force should be provided for in national legislation rather than the Constitution:
- The President should be able to draw on the executive support of a Minister to be known as the Minister of Defence. Together they should exert ministerial control over Defence and have accountability to Parliament for Defence.
- Operational control and management of the Defence Force is to be exerted by the Chief of the SANDF under the direction of the relevant Minister.
- The Defence Force and its members shall be governed by a code of conduct that shall regulate their activity strictly within the Bill of rights, and define the reciprocal obligations of the Defence Force towards its personnel.
The following important recommendations were made:
- The President shall be ultimately responsible for, and have control over, the Defence Force, and he is accountable to Parliament for defence matters with executive support of a minister responsible for Defence.
- There shall be a multi-party parliamentary oversight committee.
- The Defence Force should operate within the law.
- Members of the Defence Force should be obliged to carry out all lawful orders and disobey any unlawful orders.
- Members of the Defence Force services should be educated to a reasonable level in relevant international law and conventions, the Constitution, human rights and applicable law.
These are the central tenets that underpinned what we sought out of the Defence Review as a new Government after 1994. They are as sacred now as they were then. But beyond that, much of what governs our Defence Force would need to be revisited and overhauled or defined.
For purposes of coherence and ease of reference, as set of guidelines has been worked around which we seek answers to, specifically to address the National Strategy of Defence.
It is based on the following guidelines:
1. Changes and challenges in the Global Security Environment
2. National Security Strategy and Defence Policy
3. Defence Structure for Comprehensive Security
3.1 Defence Readiness structure
3.2 Integrated Civil-Governmental-Defence structure
4. Defence International Relations and Regional Cooperation
5. Improvement of Defence Capabilities
5.1 Development of Defence structure
5.2 Force Structure in preparation for future warfare
5.3 Fostering the Reserve Force as Key Combat Units
6. Military Support for Peace
6.1 International Peacekeeping Operations
7. Professionalisation of the Armed Forces
7.1 Defence as distinct from the Public Service
7.2 Defence Human Resource Management
7.3 Strengthening Training and Education
8. Defence and Development of Skills
- 8.1 MSDS Programme
- 8.2 National Youth Service
- 8.3 Defence Research and Development as an Economic Growth Engine
9. Improvement of quality of life
9.1 Improving working and living conditions
9.2 Designing an advanced Medical Support System
9.3 Maximising employment opportunities for Veterans
10. The Defence Force serving the people
10.1 Respect and compensation for Military Veterans
10.2 Defence Policies reaching out to the people
10.3 Enhancing Public benefits and public partnerships
11. Defence Industry
11.1 White Paper on Defence Industry
11.2 Arms Control Measures
Our critical challenges have been brought to the fore by a number of urgent glitches and here I mention just a few.
South Africa has increasingly become an integral part of the Defence systems of SADC and a dependable part in the resolutions of the conflicts of the continent, namely:
- Its role in the resolution of war and transition to peace in Burundi, with emphasis on negotiations and retraining.
- Its role in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in disarmament and in assisting in retraining the regular Defence Force.
- Its role in peacekeeping in the Central African Republic.
- Its role in curbing piracy in the area off the Mozambican coastline.
- Its role in peacekeeping in Sudan.
Humanitarian assistance is an important indication of the new direction of the Defence Force. Even though humanitarian aid has always been a Defence responsibility, it has not been covered in our policies or in legislation.
This Review gives us the opportunity to ensure this responsibility is covered and consequently budgeted for. The sterling work done by the Defence Force during the floods that hit the Eastern parts of the country and Mozambique in 2000 remains pivotal and unless expressly indicated, remains marginal. So too do the requests for assistance from our neighbouring countries, Mozambique in 2010 and Tanzania in 2011.
Based on our history, the idea of “our boys on the border” did not sit well with our democratic conscience and we ceded this. But, because of the large scale of crime across our borders, it has been considered essential that the Defence Force returns to its primary responsibility of ensuring the safety of our borders and by extension, the safety of its citizens. We have thus repositioned our military in line with our assessment of the times.
The role of the Secretariat has in the past been a very thorny issue. Our assumption of responsibilities for the democratic state was followed by a very strong desire to ensure the subordination of the military to the constitutional political power of the people. The acceptance of a Secretariat in our Constitution was universal. However, those instruments that were introduced for this purpose were ill defined and therefore ill fitted.
The role of the Secretariat had to be interrogated and we have to find an answer in the best possible fit. The current situation is not functional and we have suffered a misfit for the past 17 years. The Defence Review should properly contextualise what the intention of the legislature was, take account of its failure and help create an environment that is workable and accountable.
This review would have to enquire into a number of the fundamental assumptions that underpin present policy, including the relationship between the core (defence of national territory) and secondary tasks (such as peacekeeping and support to the police) of the SANDF and the resources that are devoted to each. The SANDF today acts as a force for crisis prevention and intervention rather than preparing to defend South Africa against a conventional or even unconventional onslaught.
As we embark on our discussion on the aims of and content of a Defence Review, it might be necessary to provide the overall context and framework in which a review is located.
As a government department, Defence policy cannot be divorced from the overarching government policy on national security. As part of a cluster of departments (law enforcement, intelligence, international relations, home affairs, etc) Defence is concerned with national security strategy, Defence provides an essential support to delivery of the Government’s national security objectives.
Our National Security tasks require of Defence to:
- contribute to the formulation of Government policy and setting Defence policy and strategy
- define and provide military capability and supporting infrastructure and services
- use military capability to meet agreed military tasks; and
- managing Defence activities, including commanding and administering the armed services and managing, controlling and accounting for the resources voted by Parliament
- use Defence in a way that contributes to development.
Our Defence policy should be informed by an on-going analysis of the strategic security environment and a number of assumptions about how the future is likely to unfold.
It should identify possible threats to a country’s national security, its society, economy, territory and environment, and provides options to government on how the defence force should deal with such threats.
- At an overarching level, the changes that have compelled a review include:
- A significant shift from the traditional militaristic causes of conflict and the threat of a conventional war, to non-traditional sources of insecurity.
- The emergence of a new continental security architecture with the establishment launch of the African Union (AU) and the on-going initiatives to consolidate the regional security architecture of the Southern African Development Community’s Organ on Politics Defence and Security, including the SADC Mutual Defence Pact.
- Importantly, there is an emerging consensus among African countries that African governments/leaders must assume responsibility in resolving African challenges and managing regional conflict. The marginalisation or the inefficacy of the African Union in the Libyan challenges is a case in point. This calls for a greater role for the AU and SADC in managing regional conflict. South Africa is expected to play a significant role in this.
Domestically, the priorities of Government are keenly focussed on addressing the needs of our people, specifically rolling back poverty and creating the conditions for economic growth and social development to occur. Consequently, the role of a defence force in a developmental state also needs to be expressed in policy alongside the traditional primary and secondary functions of defence.
This should not detract the defence force from its mandated functions, but should express both how the execution of its mandated functions and other specific initiatives will contribute to the development of our people.
In carrying out this task, we need a clear-eyed analysis that should enable us to respond in a robust manner to some of the perennial questions in our space.
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Defence
24 Nov 2011
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